Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘neoepitopes’

As we follow the journey of various neoantigen and neoepitope approaches from start-up and preclinical research through to the clinic, it’s been interesting to see how different companies and academic research groups have chosen to consider their R&D strategies.

Some of the companies we’ve interviewed and highlighted in this space include Neon Therapeutics, BioNTech, Gritstone, and newcomer, Achilles Therapeutics, along with various academic programs such as George Coukos’s neoepitope vaccine approach in Lausanne.

After we first spoke with Gritstone a couple of years ago, things seemed to go a bit quiet on the western front while Neon, BioNTech, and Achilles all had news to talk about. It’s always hard to choose from rock-paper-scissors and this may well be another modern twist of that genre until clinical data proves otherwise.

That all changed with more data being presented by the California-based biotech recently, plus patients are also being enrolled into their first neoantigen clinical trial.

At a recent conference, we caught up with their CMO, Dr Raphael Rousseau, to find out more about where they are and importantly, where they’re headed…

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At the recent ASCO 2018 Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium (GI18), Steven. D Leach MD (Dartmouth) gave an excellent Keynote Lecture on “Mapping the Immune Landscape in Pancreatic Cancer.”

Pancreatic cancer has very poor outcomes, with a one-year relative survival rate (across all stages of the disease of 20%) and five-survival rate of 7% according to the American Cancer Society.  In addition, stage IV exocrine pancreatic cancer has a 5 year survival of about 1%, which is utterly dismal to say the least.

When it comes to cancer immunotherapy, so far we’ve not seen the success in pancreatic cancer that we’ve seen in other tumours, there are no FDA approved cancer immunotherapies for this disease.

Which raises a critical question of what is happening in the immune landscape of pancreatic cancer patients, and how will cancer immunotherapy be effective?

In this post, we discuss some of the key points that Dr Leach made in excellent presentation and look at some new developments on the horizon in PDAC.

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Suburban Station, Philadelphia

Philadelphia – the second day of the AACR-NCI-EORTC molecular targets and cancer therapeutics meeting brought some new data to ponder.

I have to say it’s been the best molecular targets I’ve been to in may ways since 2009.

There were quite a few interesting elements here that cropped up during the day, which are well worth discussing and considering further implications.

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Mainz – At the recent CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR international cancer immunotherapy conference in Germany, one of the underlying themes of the conference that attracted considerable attention from speakers and poster presenters was neoantigens, and how to generate cancer vaccines directed against them.

One of the European leaders in the field is Professor George Coukos who is Director of the Department of Oncology at the University of Lausanne Hospital and Director of the Lausanne branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

Lausanne is an exciting place for innovative translational oncology work with the Swiss Cancer Center, that Coukos also directs, creating synergy between partner institutions co-located in the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV).

Mainz, Germany

We last spoke to Prof Coukos 18 months ago and much has happened since then. In Mainz, he kindly agreed to speak to BSB again and provide an update on progress.

This time we talked about the cancer vaccine research that he and collaborators such as Dr Lana Kandalaft are pioneering in Lausanne, and how this could best be applied in ovarian cancer.  It was exciting to hear him discuss his vision and some of the ambitious goals he hopes will be possible within the field.

Here’s a short excerpt from the interview – he has an interesting story to tell:

This expert interview is part 5 of our onging mini-series on the Future of Cancer Vaccines.

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